GENERAL QUESTIONS

What is ServeMinnesota?

ServeMinnesota is the Minnesota State Commission for National and Community Service. In this role, we have the responsibility to thoughtfully grant Federal AmeriCorps and State funds to support high quality AmeriCorps programs that have proven, measurable impact on critical community needs across Minnesota. In addition, ServeMinnesota provides monitoring, training, and technical assistance to AmeriCorps*State programs in Minnesota.

What is AmeriCorps?

AmeriCorps, often referred to as the domestic Peace Corps, gives citizens the opportunity to engage in full- or part‐time service to their community. Serving through a grassroots network of more than 1,000 national and local nonprofit and faith‐based organizations, AmeriCorps members serve communities and address local need in the following funding priority areas: education, healthy futures, clean energy/environment, veterans, opportunity, and disaster preparedness, as described in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act (2009) and the ServeMinnesota Request for Proposals.

MEMBER QUESTIONS

What do AmeriCorps members do?

AmeriCorps members help solve problems and make communities stronger. AmeriCorps members tutor and mentor at‐risk youth, recruit and train volunteers, give children the boost they need to succeed in school, help job seekers connect to needed services and learn vital skills, build affordable housing, and improve our environment, among many other things.

How many AmeriCorps members are serving in Minnesota?

During the 2014-15 program year, more than 1,900 individuals served Minnesota communities through AmeriCorps*State programs.

Where do AmeriCorps members serve?

Members can serve with nonprofit organizations, state and local units of government, institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes.

Who can serve as an AmeriCorps member?

Minimum Eligibility Requirements:

• Be a U.S. citizen, national, or legal permanent resident alien of the U.S.
• Be at least 17 years old, although some service opportunities require an individual to be at least 18. For most programs there are no upper age limits.
• Some programs require experience, a certain level of educational achievement, or skills in certain areas.

How much do AmeriCorps members earn?

Members serving in full‐time positions receive a minimum living allowance of at least $12,530 during their year of service. This living allowance is to be evenly distributed over the member’s service term and is not tied directly to the hours served (i.e. not an hourly wage). Members also serve in part‐time and summer positions and receive a pro-rated living allowance. Members serving in a full‐time capacity are eligible for health insurance and may be eligible child care reimbursements paid directly from a contractor of the Corporation.

After they complete their terms of service, full‐time members receive an education award of $5,775 to pay for higher education or qualified student loans. Part-time members receive a pro‐rated award. Members who are at least 55 years of age may transfer the award to a qualifying family member for education. Members who have student loans may qualify for postponement, or forbearance, during their term of service.

GRANTMAKING QUESTIONS

Who can apply for AmeriCorps funds?

AmeriCorps funds can be awarded to nonprofit organizations, state and local units of government, institutions of higher education, and Indian tribes in Minnesota.

Who makes the funding decisions?

66% of AmeriCorps*State funding is awarded competitively by the Corporation for National and Community Service (“Corporation”) at the federal level (Competitive funding) while the remaining 33%, or Formula funding, is allocated based on population to State Commissions to award. Competitive funding (awarded directly by the Corporation) is awarded for a three year grant cycle. Formula funding (awarded by ServeMinnesota) is awarded for one year of funding.

What does an AmeriCorps grant pay for?

There are three kinds of AmeriCorps grants:

1. Operating grants pay for member living allowances and benefits, member training, staff costs, operating costs, evaluation, and administration. The Corporation will pay for a certain portion of these costs, while the local agency hosting the program is responsible the remaining portion.

2. Planning grants are for eligible applicants that have a sound concept for an AmeriCorps program but require resources in order to plan, develop, and prepare the program for implementation. In general, planning grants are funded at a maximum of $50,000.

3. An Education Awards Program grant provides up to $800 per full‐time equivalent to help support program operations. Agencies interested in applying for Education Awards Program grants must already have the majority of their operating expenses covered by other funding sources. In addition to both kinds of grants, the Corporation for National Service makes education awards available to members who complete their terms of service.

How much do AmeriCorps members earn?

Members serving in full‐time positions receive a minimum living allowance of at least $12,530 during their year of service. This living allowance is to be evenly distributed over the member’s service term and is not tied directly to the hours served (i.e. not an hourly wage). Members also serve in part‐time and summer positions and receive a pro-rated living allowance. Members serving in a full‐time capacity are eligible for health insurance and may be eligible child care reimbursements paid directly from a contractor of the Corporation.

After they complete their terms of service, full‐time members receive an education award of $5,775 to pay for higher education or qualified student loans. Part-time members receive a pro‐rated award. Members who are at least 55 years of age may transfer the award to a qualifying family member for education. Members who have student loans may qualify for postponement, or forbearance, during their term of service.

How much Federal funding is provided to run an AmeriCorps program?

The size of an AmeriCorps operating grant is determined by the number of full‐time members or the equivalent of full‐time members in shorter term positions. The equivalent of a full‐time position is called a Member Service Year or MSY. The maximum amount for 2016‐17 has been set by the Corporation at $13,730 per MSY.

To calculate the amount you can request, multiply the number of MSYs by $13,730. For example, if you determine that you want 20 full‐time members and request the full allowable amount of $13,730 per MSY, you would calculate possible federal funding in the following way: $13,730*20=$274,000. In order to comply with the application requirements, please see the complete ServeMinnesota Request for Proposals.

What is the Agency Matching Funds requirement?

An AmeriCorps*State program is required to match the AmeriCorps grant at 24% the first three years of operation. For example, a program receiving an annual $250,000 grant will need to provide $63,840 in matching funds, cash and/or in‐kind each year. Matching funds come from many sources. Multi‐site programs often require that each host site (the agency that hosts an AmeriCorps member) contribute a certain amount of the matching funds. See the chart below for specific increases to required program match.

How many AmeriCorps members can an agency request?

An AmeriCorps program operating in Minnesota must have at least the equivalent of 20 full‐time members serving (20 MSY) and no more than 50 full-time members (50 MSY).

What if I only want to involve one or a few AmeriCorps members?

You have two options:

1. Find an agency to apply for and manage the funds (as a fiscal host) that would then place the members at service sites throughout a community, county, region, or statewide.

2. Contact the Corporation for National Service State Office, which manages AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) and Senior Corps programs (e.g., Retired Senior Volunteer Program). For more information, contact the Corporation’s Minnesota State Office at (612) 334‐4083. VISTA members specifically focus on poverty and capacity building.

When does the AmeriCorps program/contract year begin?

An AmeriCorps program contract year typically lasts for one year and begins in/around August. Programs may request an early start date and should work directly with ServeMinnesota for permission.

How long can an agency receive AmeriCorps funds?

Programs which receive competitive funding enter into a three year grant cycle, assuming annual demonstration of sufficient progress towards meeting program objectives and funding availability. During the first and second years of funding, the program must submit a continuation application. After the third year of funding, programs that wish to continue receiving funds must submit a full application, which is the same application that is completed by programs that have never received AmeriCorps funds from the State Commission.

Which agencies in Minnesota manage AmeriCorps programs?

See Programs

How do I apply for AmeriCorps funds?

Begin your application process by answering the following questions:

• What community problem are you seeking to solve?
• Why is your organization uniquely qualified, capable or positioned to solve this problem?
• What will the organization accomplish that it would not otherwise accomplish through existing staff and/or volunteers?
• How are the activities of the AmeriCorps members engaged in your solution evidence-based?
• If you feel as though you have strong and complete answers to the above questions, please see the ServeMinnesota NOFO and Application Instructions.